Your site’s bounce rates might spiral out of control if you don’t deal with issues that cause 404 errors. This HTTP status code indicates that the visitor’s web browser successfully communicated with your site’s server but failed to locate the requested content.
Technically, Error 404 is a frontend issue, but the root of the problem often stems from the site’s backend. That’s why managing your site’s server properly and ensuring all resources are readily available is the best way to ensure visitors can access all pages on a website.
We’ll show you how to prevent server issues that cause 404 Errors in WordPress and check if pages on your website are missing resources.
The Role of Servers in WordPress
In addition, all text, images, videos, and fonts you upload to a website will be located on its server. Most hosting providers make installing WordPress on your server a breeze as they enable you to set up the database, insert the domain name, or write the website description.
You’ll need an FTP client to connect a WordPress site to a server and upload the files you need to run the website.
Web browsers communicate with servers to retrieve the information they need to load a page on a website. Error 404 is displayed when a web browser cannot locate a page or some of its contents on the server.
Hence, website visitors might see this HTTP status code even if a page they’re trying to access is at its original location and its URL is unchanged if images, videos, or lines of code on that page were deleted.
Consequently, you must make sure all pages are working whenever you change the location of media files or documents containing code on the server.
Detecting Server-Side 404 Errors
The fastest way to get an overview of all pages on your website that display 404 Errors is to install the Redirection plugin.
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Aside from enabling you to migrate permalinks, create redirect patterns, or set up conditional redirects, this plugin also shows you a list of pages on your website with 404 Errors.
It also keeps a permanent log of all 404s, allowing you to track your website’s history of ‘Page Not Found’ issues. The 404s section will display all pages your website visitors cannot access due to the 404 Error.
The Redirection plugin allows you to fix the problem by redirecting visitors to another page, but it won’t help you detect the root of the problem.
Conducting a 404 Error site audit is another option you use to identify pages your website’s visitors cannot access. You can use Google Search Console’s Crawl Errors function to complete this task.
Once again, a 404 Error site audit will only identify pages with missing content or some other issue that prevents a web browser from accessing them, but it won’t show you what is causing the problem.
Pointing the Domain to the Correct Nameserver
404 Errors in WordPress often occur after migrating a website to a new server.
A new IP address is associated with a domain whenever you move a website to a new Domain Name System (DNS) server because your hosting provider needs time to update the record of the IPs associated with your domain.
This period is referred to as propagation, and it usually lasts for 24 hours. 404 Error may show up on your website during this time, but in most cases, the issue will disappear after propagation is completed.
You’ll have to adjust DNS settings if the issue persists after the propagation period because the domain name might still be connected to your old hosting provider.
Changing the nameserver on your domain registrar will resolve the issue. This process is relatively simple since you have to acquire one or more nameservers from your hosting provider and insert them into your domain registrar account.
Please note that the steps you’ll need to take will depend on the hosting provider and the domain registrar you’re using. Here’s a general overview of the process.
- The post-purchase email you received from the hosting provider should contain two or more nameservers. Otherwise, this information should also be available on your account on the hosting platform.
- Go to your domain registrar account and search for the Domain List or Domains tab depending on your domain registrar. Find the Manage or Manage DNS button, proceed to delete all nameservers, and replace them with new ones you acquired from your hosting provider.
Save the changes afterward and check if your website’s pages still display Error 404. Optionally, you can use the DNS Checker to determine if your domain is pointing to the correct DNS server.
Updating Folder and File Permissions
Reconfiguring file permission settings might resolve the 404 problems. These permissions inform a server who can edit, read or run files stored on that server.
Hence, web browsers without permission to access folders or files on your website’s server will display a 404 Error message. Most hosting options include control panels with the File Manager option that allow you to choose who can read, execute or write files on the server.
Remember that the location of folder and file permission options depend on the hosting you’re using. These options should be easily accessible from the Hosting tab in hPanel, cPanel, and other server management tools.
Once you update your server’s file and folder permissions, you should check if pages on your website still display a 404 Error.
Checking Server Logs
Most servers can generate activity logs that provide you with a wealth of information about the activities on your server and your website. WordPress activity logs can keep track of all permalink or content changes that can cause the 404 Error.
This function isn’t enabled by default, and you may have to edit the wp-config.php file if you cannot find this option in your server’s control panel.
However, cPanel and hPanel offer this option by default enabling you to easily check if one or more pages on your website display 404 Errors.
In addition, you can install a plugin like Activity Log or WP Activity Log if you don’t feel comfortable adding code to the wp-config.php file. These plugins will show you the overview of all pages or content you delete and make it easier to identify the root of the 404 Error problem. Don’t forget that WordPress activity logs can’t resolve 404 Errors on their own.
Using Content Delivery Networks to Prevent 404 Errors
A content delivery network is a series of servers spread all over the world that helps websites load faster. The user’s geographic location plays an important role in determining how quickly they can access content on a website.
Hosting providers are compatible with third-party CDNs like Cloudflare, enabling WordPress website owners to reach a global audience. These networks use static versions of the site’s files that don’t change unless they’re replaced with another file.
Consequently, pages loaded through CDN are unlikely to show 404 Errors if you delete some of their code or media files from the original server as they already host a static version of a page with all sources web browsers need to load them.
Content stored on CDNs doesn’t update automatically to reflect the changes you made on the original server. If you delete a line of code or a photo on the original server, these changes won’t be displayed on pages web browsers access through CDNs.
The Best Hosting Providers for Preventing Server Issues
Choosing a hosting provider is one of the most important steps you’ll have to take before launching a WordPress website.
Besides making WordPress installation easy, the best hosting providers also enable you to avoid server issues that can potentially cause 404 Errors.
Moreover, reliable hosting providers often eliminate the need to hire a WordPress developer to optimize server settings because configuring their options is straightforward. Here are some of the best WordPress hosting providers that can help you prevent server issues.
The platform offers the Activity Log feature that lets you monitor all errors on a website and makes changing a nameserver effortless. All WordPress hosting plans are affordable, so you won’t have to spend a fortune on your site’s server.
Daily website backups, free CDN, and fast loading speeds are among the countless advantages of hosting a WordPress website on Kinsta servers.
Migrating an existing WordPress site to Kinsta can boost its overall performance, and you won’t have to worry about redirecting visitors from your old IP address. Still, this hosting provider isn’t ideal if you’re on a tight budget.
Choosing a Bluehost WordPress hosting plan will give you complete control over your site’s management.
Identifying potential issues that can cause 404 and other errors won’t be problematic because all plans provide you with access to a wide range of tools that can detect broken links.
Moreover, Bluehost’s customer support is available 24/7 to help you fix any problems you may encounter.
Solving 404 Errors with Reliable Hosting
Migrating to a new server or failing to optimize server settings can cause 404 Errors, but these problems are often quickly resolved.
However, 404 issues can sometimes be pretty complex. That’s why using a hosting provider that allows you to keep track of all activities on your site’s server and quickly identify all 404 pages can make your life much easier in the long run.
A reliable hosting solution will enable you to adjust the server settings and ensure that web browsers can access all posts and pages on your site.